Objective: To elicit from individuals in a population their current weight and height, weight goals, and weight control strategies to aid in design of effective interventions to prevent and treat obesity. Subjects and Methods: By random digit dial telephone survey, 1224 adult residents of Olmsted County, Minnesota, were contacted between February 28 and May 5, 2000. They self-reported weights and weight goals and described physical characteristics associated with their desire to lose weight. Results: Among the 1224 respondents, 65.6% of men and 47.9% of women reported that they were overweight (body mass index [BMI], 25.0-29.9 kg/m2) or obese (BMI, ≥30.0 kg/m2). Only 0.4% of men and 3.7% of women reported that they were underweight (BMI, <18.5 kg/m2). Of the respondents 72.6% of men and 85.1% of women reported that they were either trying to lose or not gain weight. The average weight loss goal for individuals trying to lose weight was 23.4 pounds for men and 28.0 pounds for women. Only one third of individuals trying to lose weight and one fifth of individuals trying not to gain weight reported using the recommended approach of combining energy restriction with at least 150 minutes of exercise per week. Conclusions: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in the population and the underutilization of combining both restricting energy intake and exercising at least 150 minutes per week for weight control is high. Like the majority of people in the United States, the majority of people in Olmsted County desire to control their weight. The community has responded with plans to help residents meet their goals, although efficacy and outcomes remain to be determined.
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